Why is word count different from Scrivener to Pages?

My publisher wanted my next book to be longer - closer to 90K than my normal 80K.

Scrivener said: 82964

Then I put it into Pages (to export as Word): 85273.

Of course, I’m happy, because I think the publisher will be happier. But what happened?


That’s difficult to know without more information. All word count algorithms vary slightly, but 3,000 words seems a big difference. Where did you get the word count in Scrivener from? The Project Statistics panel? Does your document have annotations or footnotes in it?
All the best,

I selected all the chapters in my novel and under “view” selected “edit scrivenings.”

That gives me a word count on the bottom. Is that not the right way to do it? I kept doing that every so often to see if I was getting closer.

It’s a novel, so no footnotes. Although Beat the Devil had them, and they were quite funny.

April, a tad rummy

PS Project Statistics (which I was unaware of until now) gave me the same number as “edit scrivenings”

Here is something to try. Take the RTF file that you exported with compile, and drag it back into Scrivener’s Binder. Select that and see what the word count is. If it matches the 85k figure, then you might have some compile features turned on that are inserting extra material, like Notes, Synopsis, or meta-data.

P.S. Using the Edit Scrivenings feature to get a word count is only really good for estimates. It often produces a number larger than the actual compile because it counts annotations and footnotes, as well as also counting documents that might otherwise be excluded from compile. I don’t think that is the problem here though because you are getting a figure that is smaller than the final output.

I tried that. The RTF is exactly the same word count as I get using “edit scrivenings.” And the count in Pages is still 3K or so higher. And when I saved the Pages file as a Word file it still came in with the higher number. While I would like to understand why the numbers are different, I’m glad the Word count is higher, since that’s what my publisher uses and I needed there to be more words.


Hi April,

Would you mind zipping up the project and sending it to me at support AT literatureandlatte DOT com? It will be much easier if I can just look at the settings and compare the word counts myself. I’m pretty sure there will be a simple explanation as I have tested word counts, especially against Word, extensively, but it’s a little difficult to guess without seeing the project myself. Before to zip up the file before you send it.


How many ‘-’ are in the doc? Might it be that there-are-a-lot-of-phrases that scriv counts as one word while pages counts as separate?

I’m an idiot. Feel free to yank this whole topic off the technical support board.

What happened was on Wednesday I worked for 10 hours straight, running counts occasionally and skipping back and forth from chapters to chapters.

If your cursor is not in the document and you hit return twice, you’ll delete a chapter. And that must have been what I did when I was adding text. Thought I was in the document, hit return twice, deleted a chapter and then didn’t notice it. And of course, since nothing really goes away on Scrivener, all I needed to do later was drag it out of the trash. I must have deleted it after I exported it.

So the word count is correct from Scrivener to Pages, or within a few words.

April, hanging head in shame

Realisation of non-issue regarding word counts aside, that should not be. Pressing return in the Binder, Corkboard, or Outliner should if anything only make a new document. There should literally be no way to move a document to the trash with the return key. Could you post the exact steps you are taking to get this behaviour?

Note you will get a new document when you press return (once or twice depending), so it might look like everything got deleted in the editor, but really you are just viewing the new and empty document.

Perhaps you hit the delete key without realising the focus was in the binder rather than the return key? That would explain it.

Anyway, glad you found out what was going on and that there is not such a bad discrepancy after all!

All the best,